The views of this article are the perspective of the author and may not be reflective of Confessions of the Professions.
As I search the web for different ideas, research thoughts, or just randomly look for things to read or do, there are too many websites with so many great ideas. It is hard to imagine combining a hundred or a thousand websites into one. These websites often have more advanced pages or features that go beyond the average web page. But if you could get a gist of what is on most websites and take some of those ideas to better your own company website, than why wouldn’t you?
This article will solely focus on the types of advanced web pages, in detail, that you should have on your company website. These web pages are more involved and usually require that your company has been more established. You may have to hire a web designer or a more advanced web developer to perform the creation or setting up of some of these web pages. You may even have to hire employees to run certain operations for some of the web pages. Just know that these web pages are slightly more advanced than your average web pages.
Affiliates / Consultants / Partners – If you are in collaboration or partnership with other corporations to make your business possible, you will always want to acknowledge those companies, if they wish to receive acknowledgement that they are in partnership with your company. Sometimes companies will want to remain a private partner while other times, there is always the effect of free advertising for them by being on your website. Before you list any company on your website, contact the representative of the company you are doing business with and ask them if they want to be recognized as an affiliate, consultant, or partner.
Advertising – If you are interested in partnering with other companies and making some money doing it, you may want to add an advertising page that advertises the services of smaller or similar companies on your company website, either featuring them in your blog, on a dedicated page, or in an allotted area that is designed specifically for advertisers, especially if your company website receives a lot of traffic. You may want to charge a monthly fee for listing their link, or even discuss a referral fee for the visitors and customers that your website refers to your partner company. You should only link to websites that are related to your topic or company matters. Linking to any other website is not recommended, especially sites with too many affiliate links, pharmaceutical websites, or gambling websites. Ensure that the sites you link to are strictly professional, as linking to bad neighborhood websites may harm your company reputation. Remember: NoFollow any links that are paid or sponsored.
Customer Support / Live Chat – While not a requirement of a website, if you run a business, there is a lot of questions and concerns that could easily be answered if you have a person on staff checking for visitors on the website who want to engage in a live conversation with a real life support customer representative. While people will almost certainly want to call your company and talk to a live person via phone, this is another great way to communicate with visitors on your website who prefer not to pick up a phone or email.
This method should not replace the phone or email system, as there are plenty of customers who prefer to pick up the phone and receive a real person on the other end. Customers who are frustrated most likely want to get in touch with a real life person immediately. If your company offers customer support via email, you will want to get in touch with customers within a 24-hour period. The reputation of your customer service and support is the reputation of the entire company. Invest time and money into preventing a lot of need for customer service and support, but always have customer support ready to handle any issue. Make sure that your employees who handle customer service issues always remain friendly and accommodate the customer. Unless the customer’s issue is completely unreasonable, your company should do its best to make that customer feel as if they are number one and your company has dropped everything to handle the situation. Doing so may result in repeat business and that customer may also spread the word about the excellent service.
Landing Pages – Landing pages are important for reaching a specific target audience. A landing page will allow you more of a chance to convert a potential group, for example, if you are attempting to reach an audience that enjoys electronics, you will want to design the page with discounts on specific items that you may feel your audience will like. Landing pages can also help you to track what works and what does not. A landing page can easily be put up as fast as it can be taken down, which works well for giving discounts around the holidays, especially during Black Friday. If you are focusing a specific target group, such as military veterans, a landing page is perfect, as you do not have to change anything on your main website at all.
Call To Action – Whether you want to put a Call To Action in the form of a button, an image, a link, an email, a web page, a newsletter, or a landing page, a Call To Action forces your target group to feel as if there is urgency or demand in the service or product. It demands they do something within an allotted time frame, with emphasis on doing it now. For example, a call to action, in conjunction with a landing page, could offer a product or service at a discounted price for a limited time only. Nothing drives the consumer mind to buy more than the sense of urgency that the product or service will no longer be offered after a certain time, especially if there is a discount for it.
Daily Deals / Discounts / Coupons – In conjunction with a newsletter, you may want to offer daily deals on your products, a discount, or coupon page with select products for the week or the month. Whether you offer a 10% discount or $5 off a product, you will influence purchase behavior. Just like a Call To Action, if a coupon is offered for a week, a limited time only, or while supplies last on popular items, there is a sense of urgency to use that coupon and buy the product. Not only will this drive traffic to your website, but you will see an increase in purchases of your most popular products.
If possible, you will want to partner with other companies who already have a large audience base or are already excellent social media marketing experts and advertisers, and will help drive traffic to your company website because of a great discount, deal, or coupon offered by your company. Your partners may want to be compensated in the form of links or extra publicity from your own company; a percentage of the proceeds that you make in total or from the traffic they send you; or they may even want a monthly stipend in order to keep helping you out. Whatever your company decides to do, a partnership should be based on fairness, trust, and helping each other. While the Internet may be vast and filled with millions of people everyday, it certainly does not guarantee any company success nor traffic to their website, so forming partnerships with other companies and helping each other out can drive both companies to profit from the deal. A written and signed contract agreement should be necessary between all partners before anything is done in order to keep the peace and maintain that all companies hold up their end of the deal.
Employment Opportunities – If you are looking to hire employees, what better place to hire them than from your website? Create an Employment Opportunities page with a form listing any requirements you have of your potential recruit. Craigslist is a great place to put a listing, but you may have to pay a small fee to have it listed. At least with the offering of an Employment Opportunity page, you already know the visitor has come to your website, explored it, and may be looking to work for your company because they have an interest in your company. You also have the complete freedom to do whatever you want with this page. Put up whatever links, PDF or DOC files you wish, along with an upload form, a contact form specifically for Employment, or anything else you wish to have on the company website.
Awards / Recognition – A majority of websites probably do not have such a page that exists, but there are a number of websites that run contests or maybe a news broadcast featured your business. If you are a business and were voted #1, you will definitely want to tell your visitors you are #1! In any case, you want to take advantage of any media recognition as much as possible and boast about it. You earned the right to brag, so do not feel it is wrong. If you beat out the competition, you earned bragging rights! Having a Recognition or Awards page will only enhance the positive vision any visitor can have of your company.
This also means that your company should be seeking awards that are offered to companies for doing specific tasks. I worked for a company that specialized in installing solar energy panels on large buildings, with one of our largest clients being SIEMENS, and I did the web design that displayed the results of the collected energy data from the solar panel. The supervisor from the Data Team heard about an award being offered for Technology in Solar Energy. He applied for it and several months later – he drove to the Award Ceremony which was out of state – a few hours away. There were about 30 applicants who signed up to receive the award, including Microsoft and IBM, and our company ended up winning the award. When we beat out two of the largest corporations in the world, the company I worked for definitely earned its bragging rights!
Contests – By running contests on your website with free giveaways – in the form of products, subscriptions, etc., you get people interested in your website, your products, and services. A free giveaway is probably not going to hurt the company bank, and if you play your cards right, integrating Social Media with contests will acquire a large fan base, which will not only help to generate interest in your company, but it will help greatly with branding and logo recognition. If you can get people to recognize your company image, you will have already worked at getting loyal customers without realizing it. By running contests and getting people interested in recognizing your organization, you have already won a very long battle.
Suggestions – Why not invite your customers to be a part of your company? Why not listen from your customers? Be open and have a suggestion box asking your customers how you can improve your products or services. By opening up for suggestions, you are inviting customers to feel more welcome to your company and in being a part of it. Whether or not you end up using their ideas, you will want to send a thank you email and you may even want to offer them future discounts.
Surveys – Curious to know what the general public or your visitors are thinking? Why not have a Survey page dedicated to a poll or question that you can ask. You may want to run it for a month asking a question pertaining to your services, your products, or even just a general question of wanting to know about something specific. Avoid any poll questions or surveys about politics or controversial topics. Keep it the survey light and fun.
Translations – Definitely not a requirement, but if you have a product that is liked by the people in your state or your country, it will do you some good to remember that we live in a globalized world with a globalized economy. Offer your product or services to other countries. Do your research to see what countries you can ship to at the cheapest rates. The shipping will obviously fall into the hands of your customers, but if you can, hire a few translators to convert your website into different languages. You will reach a vast audience and increase your sales potential. It is recommended you use a real life translator or translation company and not a translator website, as a translation program cannot translate certain terms, sentences, or phrases properly. Anyone who is a native speaker or another language can easily detect whether you are using a real life translator or a translator website.
Mobile / Responsive – The Internet is changing and more people are “on the go” with their mobile phones, tablets, and other devices and are not sitting at a computer. Your website may not be mobile-ready and lack a responsive design. A responsive design allows your website to be accessed on any device. Having a responsive website or even a responsive page dedicated to mobile users will increase your visitors and customer potential. If your website is not currently mobile, you do not have to spend a lot of money in a redesign. There are plenty of websites that offer to convert your website into a mobile site for as low as $9 a month. If this is not the route your interested in, you could hire a web designer who could insert code into your current website that redirects visitors on a mobile phone to a responsive website. The longer you wait to convert your website over to a responsive design, the less people you are getting connected to your website for potential opportunity to make sales.
RSS Feed (Really Simple Syndication) – If your website has a blog or is an e-commerce website with a list of products that is always being updated, you will most likely want to have an RSS Feed. The RSS Feed page is normally provided to you if you use WordPress or you can register your blog to FeedBurner. RSS Feeds are for your visitors who want to keep up to date via E-Readers about all the happenings on your website. Other times, an affiliate or a fan of your product may want to list the stream of your products on their own website or blog, which can bring you in extra business and sales. An RSS Feed is often used to syndicate news from a source such as CNN, USAToday, or FoxNews and distribute it directly on a website. Never underestimate the power of an RSS Feed.
Share – This may exist in the form of buttons or links on every page or it may exist as a page dedicated to Social Media Sharing. This page exists solely for the purpose of allowing visitors to do some marketing for you and share your website as well as distribute messages about your products or company to their Social Media Networks. Pre-written tweets can be listed on this page, where all a visitor has to do is Click to Tweet. It is not an easy task to get your message out to the public, but if you begin to rely on your visitors and customers and ask them for help, especially providing options for them to tweet after they have bought a product and would like to share with their friends, this is a great method for doing so. Major Social Media sharing links and networks include Facebook, Twitter, Google Plus, Pinterest, Tumblr, Reddit, LinkedIn, Instagram, StumbleUpon, Digg, and Delicious. As an additional bonus, you could start an Affiliate Program.
You will want to provide regular links or banners in a variety of sizes that your visitors can copy and paste to anywhere on the Internet or on their own website. Ensure that you use proper HTML or BBCode so your code is displayed accurately no matter where it is placed. You want your visitors to be able to do the minimum amount of work possible, otherwise, they will not do anything at all. You may even want to add a tracking code to the links in order to see where all your potential customers or leads are coming from and offer additional incentives to visitors who bring the most leads or customers as part of the Affiliate Program. Read more about UTM Tracking Codes from the Hubspot.
Affiliate Program – This page is probably the most involved as far as setting up goes. An Affiliate Program exists to encourage your customers to do some marketing for you. By sharing a link with a special code with their friends, families, and even their own visitors or customers, they will get credit towards the person who clicked on the link and bought something. The incentive is to give the referrer a percentage of your profit. Everyone is after making some money, but if you do not make the incentive high enough, you will not find anyone who is interested in doing so much work for so little money. Don’t be too greedy and don’t be too generous to the point where you did not make enough for the cost-benefit analysis to not be worth it. Figure out what it may cost you to give someone a referral bonus and encourage them to continue doing what they are doing. After all, they are bringing you customers. This is the best method for hiring a non-employee working for you and everyone is able to receive some benefits from referrals and sales.
Sponsorship / Charity – There are plenty of non-profit organizations trying to run charities and other events, looking to be sponsored, looking for help, or looking for money. If your company can afford to sponsor an event or more every year for those companies less fortunate than yours, than it will not hurt your company to show good faith. Although you will be able to write most charitable donations off in taxes, by showing that your company is charitable, you will get brownie points and network with other organizations that may be able to help you in your future endeavors. You can be open to sponsoring any event or organization or pick a cause and stick with it. Sponsoring anything related to education will give your company an extremely favorable view by the public and your investors. On this page, you can put up a contact form with any questions you prefer, such as the organization name, name of the organizer, email, organization website, phone number, type of event, attendants, description, why your company should be sponsored, how this event relates to your company, and even if acknowledgement of your company is going to be given. You could always send an employee of your company there to attend the event and make sure everything is legit and goes as planned. Remember, charity is always good and this is definitely a great way of putting your company out there to be a part of the community.
Membership – Different from a subscription and a newsletter, a membership page allows for your visitors to actually sign up on your website and be members of your organization. Membership may offer your company the opportunity to make some extra money and attract new customers. Whether you choose to charge a daily, monthly, or yearly fee for membership, you could offer visitors who sign up to be members of your website a discount on your products or services. Members would enter a Membership area that is not offered to the general public.
Why would you do this? Membership works the same way that a Call To Action works. If your customers feel they are getting a good deal and a great discount on your products and services, you will have more members buying them and you will make more money than if you charge them regular prices.
If you choose to have a recurring membership fee, this is a great opportunity to generate recurring income, but your membership must offer great incentives for your customers to remain signed up and continue paying. For example, Amazon Prime offers free shipping and daily discounts that are not generally offered to its regular members. Making your members feel as if they are a part of an exclusive club attracts more members, especially if you offer an Affiliate Program, where your existing members can refer other members, and receive a percentage of the membership fee, not only helping your company to attract new customers, but it is a great initiative in free marketing and free advertising.
Forums / Message Boards – Depending on what your specialty or services are, you may want to provide a message board, help board, support board, support forum, message board or even a general forum for your membership or general guests. This will entice engagement and create more interaction on your website, which will cause visitors to stay longer. It will also give your visitors a chance to know you and personally meet you. By having a message board, you may be able to cut down on phone time and emails dealing with frequently asked questions and customer and technical support.
Depending on the popularity of your website, a forum may get increasingly popular over time depending on the topics discussed. Opening the forum up to a FAQ is also another way of engaging with your own customers by posting updates, news, and other information about your products or services. Forums may be used as a news board. You may also want to consider offering coupons or special discounts for your services which visitors or members may only find out about by engaging in your forums. This will go well with a membership, but you may also allow guests to posts, but ensure that you take security measures, as forums and message boards can be a spam haven.
If you have public forums, you will want to go ahead and make any external links immediately nofollow to discourage people and bots from spamming and trying to increase their own page rank. Requiring a captcha at signup will defer bots from signing up. If you have an open forum that allows for guests to post, you will also want to require a captcha. Do not allow just any conversation to spark. Forums are notorious for attracting all types of spammers, so you will want to ensure that you are able to moderate posts quickly.
Site Security and Protection – If your website is protected by an SSL certificate or monitored by a third party company, including protection for privacy and credit card or billing information, you may want to share this in the footer or on a separate page with your visitors to make them feel secure when purchasing products or services from your company website. Displaying an SSL certificate will help establish trust and loyalty with your visitors.
Money Back Guarantee – If at all possible, you will want to let your visitors know whether you offer a money-back guarantee or no refunds at all for services rendered or products purchased. By providing this information, you may turn visitors into customers because they know if they are unsatisfied, they can always return the product or get a refund on the service. You could also offer additional insurance on broken items, items that are not returned after 30 days, or extended warranty on your services.
Webinars – If you have software products or a service that you want to teach that requires some effort to learn, you may want to provide several online workshops covering different topics. Clearly outline what visitors will learn about the Webinar topic, when it is, and who is teaching it. Allow for visitors to sign up on your website. You can use Google+ Hangouts and even record the videos, which are automatically added to YouTube, so you can add them to your website for training purposes later on. Determine whether you want to charge or offer Webinars for free. If your customers have already paid a substantial amount of money for your products or services, you may want to give them the courtesy of offering free Webinars. While you may not get money up front, you will earn loyal customers.
A great example of free seminars or Webinars lies in the Apple Corporation. Apple has locations nationwide and often have daily free seminars to train potential customers and existing customers. They usually have different topics such as How To Use Your iPhone, How To Get the Most Out of Your iPad, Using your Macbook Pro and many other seminars throughout the week, month, and year. What does Apple get in return for providing these free seminars? Loyalty. I admit, I switched to the Macbook Pro in 2008 and I have never looked back. I was living in downtown Chicago near Michigan Avenue, which had an Apple Store. Everyday there was something going on at the Apple Store. Free. Yes, free. I am a loyal customer who will continue to invest and buy Apple products. They’ve got me! And that is the reason why Apple is so successful.
So while you may think you are losing out by offering free Webinars, you will gain the complete loyalty of your customers and clients. You will also be training others on how to use your products.
This also opens up another opportunity and service that you can provide: On-site seminars and training which you could definitely charge for. You may have to travel or you may have to send an employee around the United States, but you are showing your excellence in customer service and providing a great service to the company. In most cases, companies that want you to come on-site for their business and train them will often pay good money for your professional services.
None of these pages are required to be on your website, but once you’ve become confident in your product and your services and feel very established as a company, you may want to consider looking into having these web pages on your company website. Some of these web pages are quite advanced for any website, and may cost you some money, but it will help your customers have a better experience, and you may also attract a larger customer base by making the investment.
When designing websites, as I briefly spoke about in my prior article, you should never design your website for a search engine. The human experience is the most important aspect of your website. Search engines use robots or computer software that visits your website several times a day to several times a week to determine what type of information it contains and whether it has been updated or not, so that it may re-download the pages of your website and update its own index. Search engine robots are becoming smart enough to know whether you have designed it for a human or for the search engine, as there are many ways to trick search engines. However, more advanced algorithms are capturing this specific coding style and penalizing websites that have been designed to fool the search engine into making the website higher on the list in the search engine index. Search engine robots do not visually see the design of your website as a human does, but sees it as a text-version. If you are curious to understand how search engine robots actually see your website, check out the Lynx viewer.
Remember: Google has already offered the most valuable information they could possibly offer you on making google-friendly websites and search engine-friendly websites. If you follow their advice, you can never go wrong and your site will never face any penalties!
If you are looking for basic webpages that you should have on your company website, please refer back to my previous article, Essential Web Pages on your Company Website Part 1.
If you’ve got any other interesting ideas for advanced webpages that should be on a website, don’t hesitate to share your information in the comments!
Matthew Gates is a freelance web designer and currently runs Confessions of the Professions.